Government invites proposals for unitary Cumbrian local government

On Friday 9 October, the Government formally invited councils in Cumbria to submit locally-led proposals for unitary local government.

Councils in the area now have the opportunity to develop and submit proposals that would see a restructure of local government in Cumbria.

We do not yet have a detailed timetable for the period after submission, but this is being requested.

Formally inviting councils to submit unitary proposals is the first step in the legal process towards restructuring under the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007.

The district councils of Allerdale, Carlisle, Copeland and Eden are working together to identify suitable options for local government reorganisation.

Councils across Cumbria may hold different views as to how to best reorganise local government. The final decision on the preferred model will be made by the Government.

Leader of Eden District Council, Councillor Virginia Taylor, said:

“Now that we have been invited to submit proposals for Local Government reorganisation, we are working at speed with the other districts to prepare viable plans. I am committed to securing the best outcome for residents, businesses and all stakeholders including for our many parish and town councils. So the make-up of any new unitary will incorporate an aim of securing better services and inward investment, while retaining local accountability and decision making.”

Leader of Carlisle City Council, Councillor John Mallinson added:

“We welcome the opportunity to work with districts to put forward our proposals for how local government could be managed in the future. We want to do what’s best for our local communities and continue to provide excellent services. Now that the dates for submission have been announced we will move swiftly to finalise our submissions within the subscribed timescales.”

Mike Starkie, Mayor of Copeland, said:

“We welcome the Government’s invitation and we look forward to continue working internally and with colleagues to develop proposals that are in the best interests of the communities we serve.  I have long been an advocate of devolution for Cumbria and local government reorganisation is an important step towards this significant shift.”

Cllr Mike Johnson, Deputy Leader of Allerdale Borough Council, said:

“We welcome this opportunity from the government to develop a proposal for a two unitary local government model of reorganisation in Cumbria. We have a duty to our residents to get this right and provide high quality and sustainable services in the future. We will be working closely with our local partners and other councils to develop what we believe is the right solution for Cumbria.

Cllr Johnson continued, “Local Government Reorganisation must bring benefits for local residents and businesses and any proposal needs to also fully accommodate the needs of the local community and put those people and businesses at the heart of local decision making. Even more important is that Local Government Reorganisation has to be the springboard for devolution of greater powers from Whitehall to local areas. In turn, this is an opportunity for Cumbria to develop dynamic strategic leadership with a strong voice representing our interests into the wider region, nationally and globally."

Local Government Secretary, Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP, said:

“Where there is local support, changing the structure of local government can offer better value for money and improved services for residents.

“We [the Government] have always been clear that any restructuring of local government must continue to be locally-led and will not involve top-down solutions from government.

“Councils will now have the opportunity to decide whether to develop and submit their locally-led proposals with the aim of any new unitary councils being established in these areas by April 2023.”

The Government has outlined that any proposals must “improve the area’s local government”, “command a good deal of local support across the area” and “cover an area that provides a credible geography”.

The Local Authorities in Cumbria invited to submit proposals are:

  • Cumbria County Council
  • Allerdale Borough Council
  • Barrow-in-Furness Borough Council
  • Carlisle City Council
  • Copeland Borough Council
  • Eden District Council
  • South Lakeland District Council